A remarkable trove of documents has been created in NZ by an organisation called Te Punaha Matatini—Covid-19 Modelling Aotearoa hosted by the University of Auckland but funded directly by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Covid-19 Modelling Aotearoa is headed by the wildly inaccurate Covid modeller Dr Shaun Hendy who once predicted 80,000 imminent NZ deaths (currently at 53 in NZ) and includes the participation of academics from universities across NZ.
The documents are remarkable because they indicate the genesis of the unique and blinkered pandemic perspective of our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern which has diverged from that followed among other countries and from that found in global science publishing. The documents in some cases exhibit in their referenced material, a lack of awareness of the extensive content of global science publishing on the pandemic.
One paper of particular interest is entitled:
It is hardly remarkable that the NZ government uses sophisticated computer systems to closely monitor the social media content of its citizens (what government doesn’t?), but the methods used and the starting point of evaluation are highly indicative of where the repressive and controlling NZ Labour government Covid policy began:
- The paper accepts a number of controversial ideas as true at face value such as the zoonotic origin of Covid-19. It describes discussion of a bioengineered origin of Covid in a Chinese lab as Xenophobia and a conspiracy trope, when it actually was, at the time the article was published, a matter of general scientific debate.
- Table 2 (excerpted above) designates some common types of scientific discussion around Covid-19 as ‘disinformation’, most of which were actually the subject of science publishing even in mid 2020. It dismisses them as fallacious without justification. Subsequent data analysis has upheld them in large part. Yet the rejection by Ardern of their moderating tone, was and is used to stoke fear in the whole population.
- Concepts of herd immunity since found to play a highly significant role in reducing Covid severity are dismissed as oversimplification and misrepresentation despite their verified and time-honoured role in developing human immunity.
- Assertions that Covid-19 disproportionately affects those already ill with comorbidities or the aged (a highly verified fact) are outrageously dismissed as the result of ableism.
- Table 3 in the paper asserts additionally that suggestions that the vaccine might have adverse effects or may alter DNA is a conspiracy theory. Subsequently there have been over 1000 papers published worldwide examining the deficiencies in mRNA vaccination safety and adverse effects reporting including evidence published late in 2020 that RNA vaccine genetic sequences can and do integrate into the human genome.
- Mainstream scientists like Dr. Simon Thornley, media personalities like Mike Hosking, and politicians including Gerry Brownlee are described as using conspiracy theories to recruit NZers to right wing causes. All of whom should rightly have been described as high profile public figures stimulating discussion around political and scientific policies affecting a complex subject. The attempt to marginalise Ardern’s political opponents is obvious.
- The paper rejects health and wellbeing narratives, many of which are in fact grounded in mainstream medical advice, as misleading. Thus it specifically rejects self-care options. Yet prior and subsequent research has found many of these lifestyle and dietary options to be helpful if not critical to healthy Covid outcomes and avoidence of serious illness. These include adequate rest, exercise, a balanced diet, and nutritional supplements.
- This rejection of the value of wellbeing programmes has found its obvious conclusion in the formation of NZ government mandates. Yet the paper describes the suspicion that there are hidden government agendas to introduce ‘forced vaccination regimes’ as an ‘opportunistic conspiracy theory’. As we now know, these suspicions voiced early on social media are almost indistinguishable from the actual oppressive NZ vaccination mandates which Ardern eventually introduced denying employment and impoverishing those wishing to avoid risk and continue to make their own medical choices.
The push to introduce the censorship of scientific information and discussion that characterises the Ardern government is evident throughout the paper. Specific individual scientists tied to the government by both ideology, and in some cases by financial support, are picked out as people who should be the public’s sole sources of reliable information. These include: microbiologist Associate Professor Siouxsie Wiles, physicist Professor Shaun Hendy, and epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker.
The paper says the aim of government messaging should take the form of ‘branding’ designed to teach the public to trust the government alone. Something so close to propaganda as to be almost indistinguishable.
Emphasis in social media on ‘individual rights’ is described as an undesirable import from America. Ardern’s more recent rejection of protests as ‘imported ideas’ echoes Trudeau’s recent dismissal of protestors as ‘taking up space’, both of which hint at exclusionary agendas to come.
In conclusion the paper hints that ‘simply relying on the successful multi-faceted science and public health communication approaches of the government earlier in the pandemic will not be sufficient to debunk’ what it describes as ‘increasing prevalence of conspiracy theories about state control and individual rights’.
And continues: ‘a wide-ranging response to the increasing discussion of unreliable sources, untrustworthy narrators, and conspiracy narratives in media, political, and civil society discourses is required’.
It further reports that a computational methodology and process for on-going monitoring of the prevalence of mis- and dis-information, and conspiracy narratives, within Aotearoa New Zealand’s social and mainstream media ecosystems has been established. It describes public access to a plethora of social media platforms, as a problem that needs to be addressed.
The very limited scientific outlook of Covid-19 Modelling Aotearoa is evident in the many other papers it has produced for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. In particular, their narrative has diverged in content from trends now well-understood through published data analysis around the world, including:
- The strident saturation advertising of Covid-19 mRNA vaccination referring to its absolute safety.
- The Ardern doctrine that the government should be the public’s only source of information.
- The confidence Ardern extends to tentative and often subsequently falsified science without feeling the need to update policy.
- The encouragement the government has offered to social media sites to censor content.
- The politicisation of NZ’s Covid-19 policy.
Obviously, the paper and others may have fuelled and validated Ardern’s limited understanding of science. Science is a global, rational, empirical endeavour to arrive at truth, not a process tailor-made to support ideology.
Perhaps its most frightening consequence is Ardern’s rejection of the notion of individual health rights which has obvious historical parallels.
Guy Hatchard PhD was formerly a senior manager at Genetic ID a food testing and certification company (now known as FoodChain ID). Website: HatchardReport.com.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of dailytelegraph.co.nz.